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Share Important Announcements

Social MediaYou’re changing the name of your blog. You just gave birth to a baby boy. You’re heading to Chicago for an upcoming trade show. You are releasing a new online product. All these are perfect opportunities to use your social media networks to help share important announcements far and wide.

When you have something that you want to share with the widest possible audience, leverage your networks – all of them. Here are some tips to make sure your news gets the attention it deserves:

Don’t be afraid to post it more than once

Particularly on Twitter, stuff gets lost in the noise. If people don’t catch it the second you post it, it may be gone forever. Use a tool like Tweriod.com to see when most of your followers are online, and post during those times. And post it a couple of times over the course of a day or so. Those who already read the original post will just delete it without thinking twice about it.

Create an opportunity to connect

Turn a newsy announcement into a way to engage with your audience. Instead of just saying “My new product launches next week,” say, “Check out this sneak peek of my new eBook that I’m launching next week. Let me know what you think!” Or, “My daughter is here – here’s her birth photo. Guess her birth weight and the person who’s closest will win a free 30 minute consultation with me.” People are looking for new and different. Give it to them.

Talk about the news before it happens

Telling people about what you have in progress not only helps them feel engaged, it also serves as a subversive way to promote yourself without sounding promote-y. Say, “Just finished the last chapter for my eBook. Have you signed up for early notification?” Or, “I’m interviewing so-and-so next week for my next online class. Do you have any burning questions you’d like answered?”

Interconnect your social media networks

Place an announcement on Twitter that sends your followers over to your blog to read more. Record an announcement on YouTube and then post it on Facebook. The stronger the interconnections between the spokes of your network, the stronger the overall network.

Forget about press releases and publicists, and don’t sit back and wait for the newspapers to find you. Instead, you can do the promotion yourself by leveraging the members of your network.

Share Important AnnouncementsWhen it comes to building your brand, your website is one of your most powerful tools. Contact Dr. John Elcik at identityXperts to handle all of your web design needs. We can be reached by phone, at (239) 400-0622, or email: jelcik@identityXperts.com.

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Take a Mental Vacation

Social MediaWhether you’re working in an office or at home, taking regular breaks is essential for your mental and physical well-being. In the traditional office, you could head to the cafeteria for a cup of coffee, or head down to the proverbial water cooler. But when you work for yourself, taking a break to join into humanity is a little more involved. You can get in the car and drive to Starbucks for a quick latte, but that takes time and money.

You could call up a friend to check in, but who talks on the phone anymore? Instead, here are a handful of things you can do to take a much-needed mental vacation, all from the comfort of your own home, all via your social media networks:

  • Head over to Facebook and see whose birthday it is using the notification feature. Then leave them a birthday message on their wall (time: 5 minutes)
  • Catch up on your favorite non-work-related blogs. Or read a few of the industry movers and shakers and leave them a thoughtful comment, linking back to your own site. (10 minutes)
  • Post a question of the day (hashtag #QOTD) related to your niche, but in a “just for fun” sense. For instance, “What’s the last ___ you purchased for your ___?” This is a fun way to engage your Twitter followers, as well as gather some informal intelligence. (5 minutes)
  • Yes, go ahead and succumb to the Farmville or Plants vs. Zombies pull and log in to play for a limited time. Set an egg timer next to your computer and stop when time’s up. (15 minutes)
  • Check out the latest videos in your niche (did you know you can subscribe to other video creators’ YouTube channels?). Leave a comment or create a video response. (15 minutes)
  • Log into LinkedIn and update your status. Then check in on some of your groups and see what the hot topics are. Offer your expertise where appropriate. (15 minutes)
  • Do the same with Facebook. Visit some of the groups you belong to and leave questions on the wall, comment on others’ posts, and leave links where possible. (15 minutes)
  • See who’s commented on your blog lately and visit their websites, leaving comments and thanking them for visiting you. Reciprocity goes a long way to establishing relationships. (10 minutes)
  • Go to the iTunes store and see who hosts the leading podcasts in your industry. Visit their blogs and start establishing a relationship with these movers and shakers. (5 minutes)

Any of these ideas takes less time than a trip to the local Starbucks counter – or a trip to the water cooler, for that matter! Use your break time wisely and you’ll receive the double benefits of refreshment and audience engagement.

Take a Mental VacationWhen it comes to building your brand, your website is one of your most powerful tools. Contact Dr. John Elcik at identityXperts to handle all of your web design needs. We can be reached by phone, at (239) 400-0622, or email: jelcik@identityXperts.com.

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Recommendations for a Great Web Designer

Web DesignIf you’re in search of a great web designer, you may want to skip Elance and go directly to Twitter, do not pass go. Finding recommended vendors and freelancers for your business may be as easy as asking the hundreds of folks in your social media network who they recommend. Here’s a breakdown of ways to find trusted contractors, by social media outlet:

LinkedIn

One of the most powerful elements of LinkedIn is the “recommendations” feature. You can write, read, and request recommendations from others in your network. It may take a little legwork, but you can use this feature to find a great copywriter, and read what others have to say about him or her. Think of it as a Yelp for people.

Twitter

While you’re missing out on the depth of information available on LinkedIn, you can get instantaneous responses. For instance, tweet “Looking for a great online bookkeeper” and you should get a bunch of responses within minutes. Give more weight to those that come from inside your network, though, as often a request for referrals will generate automated responses from a spammer. It looks like it comes from one of your friends, but is actually just an ad.

Facebook

You can post requests for referrals, just like on Twitter, and you can also search for people with those keywords in their profiles. Beware, though; just because someone is listed as “Penelope Bookkeeper” doesn’t mean they’re an expert. You could also post your request in groups that are associated with the topic (post a request for a logo designer on a graphic artists’ Facebook group wall, for example).

YouTube

It might seem a little strange to put out a call for resources via video, but why not? Especially if you have a significant following, you could get a tremendous response. Added benefit: If the project you have in mind has a visual aspect, you can demonstrate it right on the video (think office organization, website overhaul, kitchenette remodel).

Even if fourteen people recommend the same web designer, make sure to do your due diligence. Get a written quote and scope of work, ask for a list of projects completed, and confirm that that person will be doing your project personally, not outsourcing to another. With these tips in mind, you should be able to find great outsourcing resources at the click of a mouse.

Recommendations for a Great Web DesignerWhen it comes to building your brand, your website is one of your most powerful tools. Contact Dr. John Elcik at identityXperts to handle all of your web design needs. We can be reached by phone, at (239) 400-0622, or email: jelcik@identityXperts.com.

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Social Media Secrets

Five years ago, no one could have ever imagined the phenomenon social media would become. In fact, social media has opened a networking gateway. Millions upon millions of people rely on social media services every day. With that being said, people, businesses, and marketers are trying to uncover social media secrets. Their goal is to use this networking phenomenon to their advantage.

Are There Really Social Media Secrets?

The secret behind social media is really no secret at all. Social networking works so well because it provides the normal individual with the same tools a larger company would have for communicating to a large group, all at once. You see, the power of social media is not the fact that you can talk to a single person, but the message you send is seen by hundreds at the onset. If someone is intrigued by your message, it can then be shared with their network of friends, on and on. So, the question becomes, how do you create a message that people will want to share consistently? This is the beginning of understanding social media secrets.

The First Big Secret

To be successful on any social network, you will need to know some secrets that allow many people to utilize these networks successfully. In fact, a large number of individuals that utilize social media consistently do not understand how it works and why it’s so effective. To understand this, you’ll need to know one of the biggest social media secrets, and that is ‘talking and listening. Many people and businesses use social networks consistently, but they run into a problem because they only use one part of the big secret. They either talk too much, or they listen and don’t talk. If you truly want to be successful on social networks, you must learn how to do both.

The Second Big Secret

The second biggest secret is not to always talk about you. In fact, people don’t always want to hear about you. Although you would like to talk about yourself all day long, you are not the main reason others use social networks. Once you begin to understand this, you will be a lot more successful at reaching your target audience and providing them with exactly what they’re looking for. You see, if you listen and participate consistently, you will be able to eventually read between the lines and find out that people are actually looking for something. Once you find out what that something is, all you need to do is provide it.

It’s important to realize that social media is here to stay. This is a network that will continue to grow consistently. The sooner you become aware of many of the social media secrets available, the sooner you’ll be able to have success when it comes to social networks. By understanding the information provided above, you will have a better understanding of what you’ll need to do to become part of the social media phenomenon that is taking place today.
Pragmatic Web Designer Shares His Social Media Secrets

Dr. John P. Elcik, IV
The Pragmatic Web Designer

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3 Website Design Elements to Avoid

There are design elements to avoid. When you design a website, your most important goal is to make it as easy as possible for visitors to use it while still providing a welcoming aspect that represents what your business is about. No matter how wonderful your product or service might be, your website has to present it well, or you won’t be making any sales; instead, your visitors will be clicking the back button.

When we talk about good website design, we aren’t talking only about art or graphic design. You must take into account; accessibility for the user, the layout and interface design, and of course, the graphic design. Each of these contributes to an overall well-thought-out website design.

To help you out, we’ve made a list of a few of the worst features that come up in web design. After you read this list, you can check out your own site and see how it compares; if you notice any of these features on your website, perhaps it’s time to revamp your design.

Background music

Too many sites seem to want to provide a soundtrack with looping background music. Frankly, we really only recommend it for websites that are promoting a band or other music-related products. While having a little tune playing under your site might seem fun at first, it can be a real annoyance to a website visitor trying to browse your site – every time they click over to another page, the music starts all over again. Many visitors will either turn down their volume – or worse, click away from your site. What’s more, visitors with a slow internet connection have to wait for the music to download when they visit, slowing down their ability to browse your site.

Text that’s too big or too small

Like we mentioned, there’s much more to the design than simply the graphics – user-friendliness is a big part of what makes your website work. And a part of that is the text size; text needs to be large enough to be legible but not so large that it makes it hard to read. Another thing along the same lines is the text color – make sure that there’s enough contrast between the text and the background that you can read it without straining.

Popup windows

Many surveys have found that popup ads or windows are among the top annoyances on the internet; most people ignore them or immediately click the back button rather than deal with them. In fact, most people have put popup “blockers” on their computer so that they rarely have to see the things. So not only are they annoying to the people who do see them, whatever message you’re using them to convey is not being seen by many people who come to your site. If that message is important, it’s most likely getting lost; you need to find a better way to get it in front of your visitors.

Remember that as a webmaster or site designer, your main concern is making sure that your site effectively conveys your message to your visitors. Take a good look at your site to ensure that your message isn’t being lost or ignored because of a relatively minor design flaw!
Pragmatic Web Designer

Dr. John P. Elcik, IV
The Pragmatic Web Designer

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What Makes WordPress so Popular?

It is free

Being free is not a requirement to be popular, but it helps. Word Press was first released in May 2003 by Matt Mullenweg, and today it is being used by more than 300 million websites worldwide. That’s what I call growth. As a result, WordPress is my personal recommendation to anyone considering creating their own blog or website.

It is functional

WordPoffers significant functionality right out of the box. It doesn’t matter if your site is a blog or a business site. Both site types are handled effectively.

Easy to manage

I’ve always been a DIY type individual, and WordPress makes a website easy to manage by yourself.

Easy to learn

There are online communities where you can learn more about WordPress without figuring it out on your own. Building a website is no more complex than learning to use a moderately complex application like Microsoft Word. Even so, no one should underestimate the value of online tutorials.

Well supported

It’s also easy to find service providers experienced with WordPress when you need additional customization or personalization of your blog. Consider yours truly, the Pragmatic Web Designer. I love to build websites: timely, practical, and relevant.

Search engine friendly

Another very compelling reason to use WordPress is that search engines like Google.com and Bing.com love WordPress and rapidly index posts and pages on a WordPress site.

Flexible

You can find thousands of WordPress plugins that will enhance and extend your blog or website. They are what make WordPress truly popular. There are plug-ins for almost any purpose you can think of. Plug-ins allow users to customize their website without having to pay a programmer or purchase expensive add-on products.
WordPress is popular with The Pragmatic Web Designer

Dr. John P. Elcik, IV
The Pragmatic Web Designer

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What Makes WordPress so Popular with the Pragmatic?

WordPressIt is free

Being free is not a requirement, but it helps. WordPress, first released in May 2003 by Matt Mullenweg, it now being used by more than 300 million websites worldwide. That’s what I call growth. As a result, WordPress is my personal recommendation to anyone considering creating their blog or website.

It is functional

WordPress offers significant functionality right out of the box. It doesn’t matter if your site is a blog or a business site. It is a robust and efficient solution.

Easy to manage

I’ve always been a DIY type individual, and WordPress makes a website easy to manage by yourself.

Easy to learn

There are online communities where you can learn more about WordPress without having to figure it out on your own. Building a website is no more complex than learning to use a moderately complex application like Microsoft Word. Also, don’t underestimate the value of online tutorials. There are many.

Well supported

It’s also easy to find service providers who are experienced with WordPress when you need additional customization or personalization of your blog. Consider yours truly, the Pragmatic Web Designer. I just love to build websites: timely, practical and relevant.

Search engine friendly

Another very compelling reason to use WordPress is that search engines like Google.com and Bing.com love WordPress and rapidly index posts and pages on a WordPress site.

Flexible

You can find thousands of WordPress plugins which will enhance, and extend your blog or website. They are what make WordPress truly extendable. There are plugins for almost any purpose you can imagine. Plug-ins allow users to customize their website without having to pay a programmer or purchase expensive add-on products.

What Makes WordPress so Popular with the Pragmatic?When it comes to building your brand, your website is one of your most powerful tools. Contact Dr. John Elcik at identityXperts to handle all of your web design needs. We can be reached by phone, at (239) 400-0622, or email: jelcik@identityXperts.com.

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Get Answers with Social Media

Social MediaIt used to be that all answers to your questions could be found on Google. Then, when Google became overrun with junk sites and advertisements, Wikipedia became the guru of choice. But even Wikipedia won’t give you the answer to every question you have. Sometimes the information is too ancient, or sometimes you don’t want the facts; you want an opinion. So what better place to turn to than social media?

Social media is great for the following types of questions:

Opinions

Heading to San Antonio and want to know where to find authentic Tex-Mex? Wikipedia won’t help you and Google is full of sponsored ads. So instead of doing a fruitless search, post a query on your Facebook page, and within hours your followers will have chimed in with a variety of suggestions, depending on your appetite, allergies, and budget.

When you want an opinion or suggestion, ask your social media network. They tend to enjoy giving help and assistance, and the resulting information may be more appropriate to your circumstance than a review written by a nameless, faceless entity.

New technology questions

Your brand-new video camera won’t boot up after the last charge. You could spend an hour or two on the manufacturer’s website, searching the FAQ pages for an answer. You could google the problem, but all the answers you get are for the previous model. So you send out a plea for help from the Tweetiverse, and within minutes you have a handful of suggestions, as well as the site to go to for expert help.

Google often doesn’t help much with tech questions because there either aren’t enough answers out there to make it to the first page of the search results, or the resulting pages are all scams, junk sites, or sponsored posts for services that will fix your camera for a small fee. That’s why you can often save time by asking your network first.

References and referrals

Looking for a great handyman in Manhattan can be like looking for a needle in a haystack. You can go through the Yellow Pages or check online, but are any of these guys any good? To know for sure you need a personal reference or referral, and that’s where your social media network can really help out. Post a Facebook query or tweet it out there, and you’ll get answers that will steer you in the right direction.

We often think of social media as a way to just hang out with our friends and colleagues, but it is actually one of the greatest examples of the wisdom of crowds. Take advantage of it, and save time, too.

Get Answers with Social MediaWhen it comes to building your brand, your website is one of your most powerful tools. Contact Dr. John Elcik at identityXperts to handle all of your web design needs. We can be reached by phone, at (239) 400-0622, or email: jelcik@identityXperts.com.

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How Much Does a Quality Website Cost?

Web DesignPlanning your web design budget

Every website is different, making pricing an “art” more than a “science” with web developers using many methods to determine the cost of web design. There are four common types of web design pricing today: Hourly rates, Project price, Package rates, and Per page. Below we describe each of the common methods for website pricing. If you already have a requirements list for your website, ask for a quote.

Charging hourly

A prevalent way for web designers to charge is by the hour. Depending on the experience, your location, and many other factors, the hourly rate can be anywhere from $10 outsourced overseas to $200 per hour for a high-level consultant! It is is a vast difference, but you can find both and everything in between.

The important thing is to remember – you do “get what you pay for.” Make sure the web developer is worth the rate they charge. Always check with the designer’s past clients. Standard hourly rates:

  • Student/Offshore: $10-$30/hour
  • Freelancer: $35-$100/hour
  • Expert Consultant: $50-$200/hour
  • Company: $75-$150/hour

Per project pricing

Many web design firms will give you a set price to complete your project. It can be a good option. Make sure you have a thorough and complete requirements list before you begin the project. A good design firm will break out each proposal section with a list of features, specifications, and assumptions for each section of your website. Please make sure you get it in writing, so you both have clear expectations. Typical pricing for projects:

  • Outsourced Offshore: $500 – $15,000
  • US Designer: $3,000 – $20,000
  • US Web Design Firm: $5,000 – $50,000

Package rates

Many web designers will have pre-made packages that are usually cheaper than the project model. The drawback of packages is that they try and fit your business into a pre-made website that might not have all the bells and whistles a custom site has. Most designers, however, will have a flat package rate then allow you to request customization at an additional charge. Package rates at Pragmatic Web Design begin at $299 for up to 3 pages.

Per page pricing

Some web designers charge a flat rate per page; this can range from as low as $50 to $200 per page. This pricing is usually for basic static brochure websites that do not require a lot of custom features. The per-page price may go down with a bulk discount depending on the number of pages you need. Typically, designers with less experience are the ones who usually charge per page prices.

Brochure websites

In this day and age, a company needs to have an online presence and a corporate brochure site. A “brochure” site means a website that serves as an online brochure that gives general information about your company’s products and services. A brochure site does not have complex database programming, e-commerce, or lots of interactivity. It serves as an online advertisement that features graphic design. These websites may start for as little as $500 or be as high as $2,500.

Complex websites

E-commerce, Corporate or Commercial websites can range from very simple to very complex. There are quite a few things to consider when preparing to budget. More complex sites feature a greater level of interactivity and database integration. You may need a private intranet for employee communication and document sharing, or an extranet to share information and track vendors and customers. If you choose the lowest price possible, you will probably not get any qualified providers to respond. These websites usually start around $5,000 and can go as high as $25,000 depending on the complexity. Sites can go as high as $100,000.

Summary

If you have a requirements list for your website or would like to develop one, call 239-400-0622 or email jelcik@pragmaticwebdesigner.com a request for a quote. At Pragmatic Web Designer, we make estimating a project easy. Package pricing is online, and our other rates are $50 an hourly or $100 a page. A requirements list is the basis for project proposals.

How Much Does a Quality Website Cost?When it comes to building your brand, your website is one of your most powerful tools. Contact Dr. John Elcik at identityXperts to handle all of your web design needs. You can reach us by phone at (561) 543-2892 or email: jelcik@identityXperts.com.

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The Correlation Between Traffic and Sales

Web DesignMost of us involved in the internet or online marketing understand the correlation between traffic and sales. The more people who visit your site, the more sales you’re going to have. But just getting traffic to your site isn’t always enough to grow your sales. It’s important to be sure that you’re doing everything you can to maximize the number of sales that you get from the current traffic you have, and to make sure once someone has visited, they keep coming back.

How to Get The Sale

First of all, rethink how you sell to your customers. Instead of giving a hard sell, always keep in mind how you can best benefit your reader. People are more likely to buy from someone they trust, so write your sales copy as if you were trying to tell a friend about a great product. It will make the reader feel as if you’re talking directly to them.

After you’ve made some sales, try to get testimonials or reviews from your customers. It’s important to put a variety of comments; include the bad with the good. If all you’ve got are string after string of positive comments, it looks phony. The important thing is that people are more likely to trust buying from you when they see that other’s have. It’s called the “bandwagon” syndrome – everybody wants to jump on it!

Use enticing images of your product, showing it in use if possible. When people see something being used, it makes them think of how they could use it for themselves, giving them more incentive to buy.

If you can, offer bonuses for the purchase of your products. Let people see the monetary value of the bonus; they’ll feel more like they’re getting more value for their money.

Don’t forget to ask for the sale! I’ve seen so many sites that have a beautiful copy that lists benefits of the product, great bonuses, and lots of convincing testimonials – and then never tells the visitor “Click Here to Buy!” People have a tendency to do what they’re told; it’s human nature. When you see a big red button that says click here – you’re likely to click it! It’s also important that you make it very clear what they need to do to purchase. Make sure the link is big and obvious.

Keep Them Coming Back

Once you’ve made the sale, you want to make sure you don’t lose contact with the customer. If they’re happy with their purchase, they’re more likely to buy from you again. Even if someone hasn’t purchased from you before, if you can get them to return to your site over and over, you’re much more likely to make a future sale. Don’t let these potential customers slip away!

A frequently updated blog on your site is one way to keep them coming back. Talk about issues that are important to your customers; talk about updates to the product, new ways to use it, or new products that they might be interested in. But not just that; if applicable, talk about yourself and let them know there’s a real person out there behind what you’re selling. They’re more likely to trust you, which means they’re more likely to buy your products.

Another way to keep people connected is by way of a forum. This is a very effective way of bringing people back to your site and keeping them engaged. It also gives them an easy way to talk directly to you about questions about your products, which increases the trust factor like nothing else.

While increased search traffic is always a worthwhile goal, optimizing your sell rate and increasing customer loyalty are ways to maximize your income without relying too heavily on the search engines. It’s the threefold approach that will lead to your success.

The Correlation Between Traffic and SalesWhen it comes to building your brand, your website is one of your most powerful tools. Contact Dr. John Elcik at identityXperts to handle all of your web design needs. We can be reached by phone, at (239) 400-0622, or email: jelcik@identityXperts.com.